Sunday, December 21, 2014

All about that space base bass

After I wished all my readers a Happy Winter Solstice 2014, I told them to "stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry."  Since I'm in an "I can't be all DOOM all the time" mood, I'm engaging in a bit of memetic mutation involving Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass."

I begin with NASA's All About That Space.

"All About That Space" is a volunteer outreach video project created by interns at NASA's Johnson Space Center. It was created as a parody (to raise interest and excitement for Orion's first flight) of Meghan Trainor's "All About That Bass". The lyrics and scenes in the video have been re-imagined in order to inform the public about the amazing work going on at NASA and the Johnson Space Center.
In case you're experiencing déjà vu, the 2012 class created and performed a similar parody that I featured in NASA Gangnam Style two years ago.

Follow over the jump for another parody and the original, along with two space basses, one fantastic and the other quite real.

Happy Winter Solstice 2014!

The Huffington Post: Winter Solstice 2014: Shortest Day Of The Year Marked By Pagan Celebrations
By HuffPost Religion Editors
December 20, 2014
In 2014, the winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere will begin on Dec. 21 at 6:03 p.m. EST. To calculate the turning point in your time zone, click here.

Officially the first day of winter, the winter solstice occurs when the North Pole is tilted 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This is the longest night of the year, meaning that despite the cold winter, the days get progressively longer after the winter solstice until the summer solstice in 2015.
That's today.  Happy Solstice!

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Watch this building go boom

Last Sunday, the college where I teach imploded an old office building on a property it acquired.  I could have gotten up early and watched it in person, but I decided to sleep in and hope that the demolition would be such good television that I could watch it on YouTube.  I was not disappointed.  There were quite a few videos of the event.  The best one so far is the following from Controlled Demolition, Inc., the company that set the explosives, which shows the implosion from multiple angles.  It also includes the sounds of the countdown and the spectators cheering.

Controlled Demolition, Inc. (CDI) of Phoenix, Maryland, USA (acting as Implosion Subcontractor to Main Demolition Contractor, North American Dismantling Corp. of Lapeer, Michigan) performs the successful explosives felling of the 17-story, structural steel North Park Plaza building in Southfield, Michigan at 8:30 AM on Sunday, December 14, 2014.
The next best was shot from a drone that overflew the building during and after the implosion.  In my opinion, it does the best job of showing the aftermath.

The implosion and aftermath of the North Park Plaza skyscraper in Southfield, MI USA. Filmed via DJI Phantom 2 Quadcopter.

The North Park Plaza was a 42 year old 17 story office tower which had been vacant for several years. It was purchased by Oakland Community College (OCC), which is currently planning future uses for the soon to be vacant land.
That pile of rubble was what greeted me as I drove into work the next day.  I'm still getting used to the building being gone.

It turns out that OCC is not the only college that will demolish a former commercial property it now owns.  Follow over the jump for news from the other side of the state.

Falling gas prices make news in Michigan, again

I expressed my astonishment in the opening of PBS NewsHour on lower oil prices.
Gas prices have continued to fall since yesterday's WOOD-TV on lower gas prices.  The neighborhood stations blew right through the $2.35 and $2.32 price levels I expected to $2.29, lower than I would have forecast for this week.  I'd be tempted to call a low for the year, but there is still another week that prices could fall before they historically begin to rise again.
I was wise not to call a bottom, as prices kept falling since then.  Thursday, the three stations down the street lowered their price for regular to $2.25, while the corner station remained at $2.29.  I expected the corner station would match them.  Instead, it undercut them, dropping its price all the way down to $2.17.  In response, the three stations down the street lowered their prices to $2.22.  That's about what should be expected from Gas Buddy, as that is a dime below the Detroit average of $2.32 on Thursday.  However, the corner station seems to have anticipated a further price drop that arrived Friday, when the Detroit average fell to $2.29.  A dozen cents lower at $2.17 doesn't seem that out of line.

Both WXYZ and WOOD-TV have noticed the latest price drop.  First, WXYZ reports, a few days later than WOOD-TV, that Gas prices drop to under $2 per gallon in Michigan.

That station is only a few miles away and might just pull down prices of stations nearby, so I'm still not calling the bottom yet.

Follow over the jump for WOOD-TV's reporting on low gas and oil prices.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Happy Hanukkah from Michigan!

Since I love holidays, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Hanukkah here at Crazy Eddie's Motie News.  It turns out that I've only done so once before, so I have been remiss.  To make up for forgetting last year, here are two videos from Michigan about the holiday.

First, WXYZ with Menorah lighting celebration at Campus Martius.

The next evening, my wife and I saw a procession of cars with menorahs on their roofs driving down Woodward in Royal Oak.  I'd never seen anything like it before.  It would have made good television as well.

The equivalent in Grand Rapids was less showy, which is probably why WOOD-TV also included footage from the menorah lighting in Washington, D.C., in 2014 First Night of Chanukah in Grand Rapids.

Happy Hanukkah!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

WXYZ on 2014 in social media

Today is another Throwback Thursday on Facebook, which makes it an appropriate day to post the first retrospective of the year just past.  WXYZ has helped make it easy for me with four videos about 2014 on social media.

First, What we talked about most on Facebook in 2014

Next, You Tube's Most Watched Videos of 2014.

I'll have more about the year on YouTube from YouTube itself in a later entry.  Meanwhile, follow over the jump for two more videos from WXYZ about Facebook and other media.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

PBS NewsHour on lower oil prices

Gas prices have continued to fall since yesterday's WOOD-TV on lower gas prices.  The neighborhood stations blew right through the $2.35 and $2.32 price levels I expected to $2.29, lower than I would have forecast for this week.  I'd be tempted to call a low for the year, but there is still another week that prices could fall before they historically begin to rise again.

PBS NewsHour has noticed the precipitous decline in oil prices and analyzed the implications of them in Is there a bad side to the recent plunge in oil prices?

Over the last few weeks, the price of oil has dropped dramatically. While this may be good news for consumers, for Wall Street the numbers tell a different story. The Wall Street Journal's Nick Timiraos joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington, D.C. to help make sense of the downward trend.
The result looks like the beginning of the popping of shale oil bubble forecast by Kunstler in The Instability Express and Crash-O-Matic Finance and Greer in Dark Age America: The Hour of the Knife.  I summed up my take on the financial chaos that could result in a comment at Kunstler's blog.
[T]he weakness in oil is pulling the market down.  What is good news for consumers is not good for investors, and I suspect that the increased spending on consumer goods may not be enough to make up for the bursting of the shale oil bubble.  This is not good, as Wall Street has a way of inflicting its pain on Main Street.
There are other moving parts that intersect with the falling price of crude oil, as PBS NewsHour explains in Sanctions, cheap oil take toll on Russian ruble.

Russia's central bank hiked a key interest rate nearly 7 points overnight in a dramatic move to stabilize the economy. The ruble has lost 60 percent of its value since January, and Russians have been feeling the economic pinch of inflation. Jeffrey Brown reports how the falling price of oil and Western sanctions have hurt the Russian economy.
Hurting Russia and Iran might be a good thing from the perspective of both the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, but it might come at a high price in terms of loss of American oil production.  Elaine Meinel Supkis thinks this will backfire with Russia coming out OK and the U.S. and Saudi Arabia harming themselves instead, but I think she's lost it and she is too wedded to a model of the world that doesn't work.

As for what I think will harm us, follow over the jump.

WOOD-TV on lower gas prices

Much has happened since I posted The return of $2.50 gas.  For starters, the price for regular in my neighborhood has fallen three times in less than a week, first to $2.45 last Friday, then to $2.39 by Monday morning, and again to $2.37 Monday night and Tuesday (the three stations down the block in the evening, then the corner station the next day).  WOOD-TV has noticed the fall in gas prices on the west side of the state in two videos.  I begin with gas prices fall below $2 in Greenville.

For the first time in more than five years, gas prices have fallen below the $2 mark in West Michigan. (Dec. 16, 2014)
Patrick DeHaan of does a very good job of explaining the effects of local competition, which is one of the reasons why gas prices are so low in my (soon to be former) neighborhood, and why diesel prices have not fallen along with gas prices.  I had ascribed the price rigidity to inflexible demand; DeHaan added the effects of low supply from reduced refining capacity, exporting diesel to foreign markets, and competition between diesel and heating oil.  Thank you, Mr. DeHaan; I learned something.

DeHaan makes a cameo in the next video, as he's the expert who predicts gas will stay below $3/gal until late winter.

Prices continue to drop at the pump, with the cost of gas as low as $2.14 per gallon in West Michigan on Sunday.
The woman being interviewed is giving exactly the kind of reaction that people who want good news want to see, delight at lower prices and plans to spend the money for the holidays.  As for DeHaan, he's saying the same thing about gas prices that I've been saying, that gas won't rise above $3.00 until March or April.  I'm sure he's looking at the same thing I am, the RBOB futures.

Speaking of which, Oil-Price.Net shows the spot price of RBOB is $1.58 along with WTI at $55.91 and Brent at $61.06.  I'd like to say these are the floors for these commodities, but I've been consistently surprised at how low they've gone for the past few months.*

Finally, I expect prices at the pump to go down at least one more time, as Gas Buddy displays a Detroit average of $2.42.  The local stations could go down another five cents to $2.32, although I expect them to pause at $3.35 first.

*I plan to post more about the effects of lower oil prices later today.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Bottled water: student sustainability video festival 31

I've submitted all my grades, so it's time to wrap up the series for the year with the videos from the topic my students voted number one over Box Jellyfish, bottled water.

First, Know More TV asks Is Your Bottled Water Safe?

KnowMore's Registered Dietitian Erin Palinski-Wade explains why you need to steer clear of Bisphenol-A in plastic water bottles.
Next, the entertaining and informative Tamara Lay presents Tap Water Vs. Bottled Water.

Tap water or bottled water? Have you ever wondered which is REALLY better for you? Well, I did... and I found out.
For more on this topic, see 'Tapped': Student sustainability video festival 23.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Box Jellyfish: student sustainability video festival 30

George Kourounis starred in the second video I featured in The Door to Hell; I noted that he'd show up again.  Here he is in Stung by a Box Jellyfish, the video used in one of the two presentations that tied for second most popular among my students.

Adventurer and Angry Planet TV show host, George Kourounis finds out what it is like to be stung by the deadly Box Jellyfish, possibly the most venomous creature on Earth.
Between this and climbing into the Door to Hell, Kourounis demonstrates his taste for risk and adventure.  Even so, he didn't want to do that again!